MV Martha’s Vineyard poised to resume service

Steamship Authority looks at New Bedford freight link, and to find a home for dredge spoils orphaned in Falmouth.

New deck seating on the refurbished MV Martha's Vineyard. --Courtesy Steamship Authority

The MV Martha’s Vineyard is heading home after undergoing a $17.5 million refurbishment and is scheduled to return to service on Friday, March 2.

At the monthly Steamship Authority (SSA) board meeting in Falmouth Tuesday, engineering chief Carl Walker said the MV Martha’s Vineyard was slated to depart Senesco Marine in Rhode Island on Wednesday and will motor to the SSA Fairhaven facility. Coast Guard sea trials are scheduled for Feb. 28. The MV Martha’s Vineyard underwent dock trials last Saturday and general sea trials Sunday and Monday in Rhode Island.  

Walker expects punch list items like ceilings and lighting to continue up to the day the ferry resumes service, but he said all heavy work is done.

The revamped vessel will have new seating and railings, improved bathrooms, a new elevator, a new capstan and a new bow vehicle door.

“Everyone’s done a great job. Everyone’s put 110 percent into the project,” Walker said.

In other business, in a report on the potential for barging waste off the Vineyard, general manager Robert Davis said the SSA consultant has reviewed 2017 data from Bruno’s and is including it in a feasibility study. The consultant is still waiting on Ralph Packer’s Tisbury Towing and Transportation to deliver data on barging costs.

“Until they receive that information, they [consultant] cannot make a direct cost comparison,” Davis said.

Davis also gave an update on the exploration of private carrier freight service to New Bedford. He said SSA staff made a presentation to the Falmouth board of selectmen, and the board wrote a letter to state Sen. Vinny deMacedo asking for help in getting funding for the New Bedford State Pier — a critical piece of infrastructure to the proposed service.

Davis also said he told Falmouth selectmen that timing of when SSA vessels and the private carriers enter port are a logistical hurdle, but that he and his staff were open to any solutions.

Walker informed the SSA board that approximately 442 cubic yards of dredge spoils from Slip 2 in Woods Hole was “dewatered” aboard a barge and then trucked to a Falmouth beach, per an agreement with the town. However, the spoils were subsequently “deemed unsuitable” by the beach superintendent. The rejected material is presently being hauled to the Palmer Lot to be stockpiled until a suitable location can be found.